Horn Book Guide Reviews
After bully Tod Munn gets busted breaking into and vandalizing the school, his guidance counselor forces him to fill pages in a notebook during daily detention. The more he writes, the more he reveals--and figures out--about his friends, his actions, and himself. Tod's witty narration, prompted by the guidance counselor's occasional notes, skillfully develops both his character and the story.
Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
Tod Munn is not a typical bully. Forced to write in a notebook because, in his words, he is "being reformed," Tod's diary entries, written to his school guidance counselor, chronicle his "fundraising activities," interactions with his "droogs" Rex, Rob and Bernie, and his slow road to redemption that begins with him crashing the school spelling bee and ends with him secretly supplying costumes for the school play. The notebook reveals an outwardly-hardened, inwardly-sensitive teen wrestling with the pull of loyalty to friends and fear of the future while just trying to survive the next week of school. As Tod begins to see that he might have a future beyond his hardscrabble neighborhood, a series of betrayals by those closest to him sets off a dangerous chain of events Tod's journal attempts to answer the question, "How can anybody scrawl his story when he doesn't have anything to say?" Scrawl is at times hilarious, sarcastic, and angstya present-day Lord of the Flies (Capricorn Books, 1959) with the pathos and introspection of My So-Called Life (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1995). Blackmail, cliques, and a sense of hopelessness from both students and teachers sets up an unexpected ending that will leave readers with a new appreciation for how difficult high school can be. With the potential to occupy the rarified air of titles like S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders and Chris Crutcher's Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes (Greenwillow Books, 1993/VOYA October 1993), Scrawl paints the stereotypical school bully in a different, poignant light.Jay Wise 4 Q 3 P M J S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.
"After class-bully Tod and his "droogs" get caught vandalizing school property, his punishment is to spend every day in after-school detention writing in a notebook. "About anything?" he asks Mrs. W., his jailer. "Okay. Fine. You asked for it. I'll write about this desk. I hate this desk." The classic smarter-than-his-teachers underachiever with a rotten home life, Tod has a real way with words (the way he crashes, then dominates the spelling bee is priceless), and he soon warms to his enforced writing therapy. Some readers might wish he'd stayed a little more bottled up thoughhis wordy tendencies sometimes drag the narrativebut Shulman establishes a nice voice for him, as Tod rips jokes so dry they can float away and shows some real heart dealing with his less-than-desirable lot in life. Much to his droogs' horror, he gets involved making costumes for the school play, and his increasingly confrontational clashes with them spell both trouble and growth. An unusual sort of bully redemption story, with patient, not reluctant, readers squarely in its sights." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Tod Munn is in trouble for breaking into school and vandalizing school property. Previously, he's taken kids' lunch money, broken eyeglasses, intimidated weaker kids. He's the stereotypical school bully. Or is he? His friends have been sentenced by the disciplinary committee to endless hours of cleanup duty, but Tod, for some reason, is sent to daily detention with Mrs. Woodrow, the guidance counselor and former English teacher, where his punishment is to write several pages per day in a composition notebook. And despite his handwriting, his scrawl, his prose is quite good, raising the question, early on, of how a thug like Tod could be such a literate writer, let alone have read Moby-Dick, Oliver Twist and A Clockwork Orange. But this novel-as-journal isn't just the author's conceit; Tod's writing skill, his clear prose and natural voice, makes sense as readers get to know him through his journal, in which he describes himself and his world and proves that maybe he's more than a "ghetto juvenile delinquent," which is just what Mrs. Woodrow had suspected. A memorable debut. (Fiction. 12 & up)
Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection
Tod Munn bullies other kids, takes their lunch money, and is scary to others. When he and his friends are caught for vandalism, Tod?s punishment is to write journal entries under the watchful eye of his guidance counselor. From his entries readers learn of the poverty which is at the root of many of Tod?s actions. Because of his guilt at vandalizing his friend Luz?s sculpture, he agrees to do the costumes for the play which she is directing. To procure the costumes he searches in dumpsters, steals donations from a second hand store and from clotheslines. He uses his sewing ability, learned from his mother, to alter the clothes. This is a different take on the bully story. It lets the readers inside the mind of a bully and see the reasoning for his actions. The story is true to life, funny, and shows that people who are seen as troublemakers can change. I wished that a better school could be found for Tod; his intelligence seemed to be of his own making and was not being enhanced by what he was taught in school. Highly Recommended. Ellen Spring, Library Media Specialist, Rockland District Middle School, Rockland, Maine ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Shulman (Mom and Dad Are Palindromes) makes his YA debut with the story of Tod, a school bully forced to spend detention writing in a journal. Tod's latest crime was breaking into school with his buddies to steal a video camera, but he has a long history of beating up kids for their lunch money and destroying property. He's also a superb student, hiding his good grades behind his rough demeanor. As he writes, details of his home life emerge. Tod's house is barely habitable, and he is forced to help his mother in her job as a seamstress to make ends meet. His bullying is often less about wanting to hurt other kids than genuinely needing money, although he doesn't show much remorse. There's little that hasn't been done before--the overly smart bully with a troubled home life is a standard trope--but Shulman throws in some nice twists and gives Tod a strong, solid voice. Even the inevitable ray of hope doesn't fully distract from the bleakness of Tod's life. Ages 12up. (Sept.)
[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 7 Up"I know what you think. You think I'm fixable, don't you? You want to fix the bad guy." Readers slowly learn what makes Tod, a self-confessed bully, tick by reading the notebook he writes in (not, he insists, a journal) during after-school detention. He is supervised by Mrs. Woodrow, the guidance counselor, for a school break-in with his buddies (droogs), who increasingly resent that he's gotten this cushy punishment while they are consigned to clean the school grounds. Tod is no dummy. He reads, does his homework, and gets good grades. But he's poor. His mom, a seamstress, does alterations for a dry cleaners (Tod helps), and he tries to stay away from her husband, whom he describes as "unpredictable." Lacking money for basic necessities like food and clothes, he extorts it from "losers" at school and otherwise tries to keep a fairly low profile. The plot is thin, as Tod gets roped into providing the costumes for a school play written and produced by "that spooky goth girl Luz Montoya." Still, he is a funny, quirky, interesting character. There are loose ends, but in the end it's not so much what happened, as the fun of getting there, finding out whether Tod is right or not when he writes, "I'm a loser, okay? I was born a loser and I'll live a loser and I'll die a loser. And nothing you do here is going to ever change that."Joel Shoemaker, formerly at South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
[Page 127]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The Author's Mother
I'm so proud.